Judge Officially Dismisses Charges Against Strauss-Kahn

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Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn departs his temporary residence in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City on July 6, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's appearance in court on Tuesday, his first since July 1, has turned out to be his last trip to the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. In the weeks since the latest hearing over his alleged sexual assault of a chambermaid at a midtown Manhattan hotel, in which Judge Michael J. Obus freed Strauss-Kahn and vacated his bail because of questions about the accuser's credibility , more and more signs have pointed toward prosecutors' dropping charges against Strauss-Kahn. On Monday afternoon, prosecutors filed a dismissal on recommendation papers recommending that Obus drop the charges. At noon on Tuesday, the judge complied, dismissing the charges before then issuing a stay on his order so an appellate court could decide whether a special prosecutor should be appointed.

"For a trial jury to find the defendant guilty, it must be persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant is credible," the motion to dismiss says. "Indeed, the case rises and falls on her testimony." The motion explains, "The physical and other evidence does not establish forcible compulsion or lack of consent," meaning that the case would hinge on a jury's believing the accuser's testimony over Strauss-Kahn's assertions that the sexual encounter was consensual.

In court Tuesday morning, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi-Orbon spoke before Judge Obus and explained their reasoning for the motion to dismiss charges. Illuzi-Orbon said that Strauss-Kahns accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, was untruthful with us in virtually every substantive interview in matters of large and small significance. Illuzi-Orbon explained that while the physical and forensic evidence in the case suggests a hurried sexual encounter, it did not answer questions of force or consent. For a jury to believe an assault took place, jurors would have to rely on Diallos credibility. Indeed, the case rises and falls on her testimony, said Illuzi-Orbon in a direct quote from the dismissal motion.

Judge Obus agreed and dismissed the charges, but the legal proceedings had one more act. On Monday, Diallos lawyers filed a motion to appoint a special prosecutor, arguing that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. had not fulfilled his duties. Judge Obus denied that motion, and just hours before the hearing, Diallos lawyers appealed that ruling. When Judge Obus dismissed the charges, he placed a stay on the ruling for 30 days, meaning that the ruling would not go into affect for that time, allowing the appellate court to rule on Diallos appeal. It turns out the court didnt need much time at all. Less than two hours after the hearing ended, the appellate court denied the appeal, leaving Strauss-Kahn free to go.

Outside the courthouse, lawyers for Strauss-Kahn said they were pleased with the decisions. It is impossible to understand the full measure of relief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is feeling, his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said. You can engage in inappropriate behavior perhaps, but that is much different than a crime. When asked if Strauss-Kahn would be free to leave the country, Brafman said, He can go now if he wants to, but hes not.

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